[ExI] Impressive book: Farewell to Alms

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Feb 3 20:00:10 UTC 2008

Spike writes

>> Consider how incredibly hard many Mexicans work in the U.S. 
>> who come from very poor towns and villages across the border. 
>> I've heard it said that these very same people, when 
>> returning to Mexico, completely drop the work habits they 
>> evinced in the north, and go back to two siestas a day and 
>> other generally unproductive habits... Lee
> Lee, I stand in awe of how hard the Mexicans work.

Now this is important because it applies to an important example
adduced by Clark. There *has* to be both a genetic and cultural
component to the alacrity with which the people (forced by the
enclosure acts) took to factory work in England.

Clark discusses the genetic component, which incidentally does
account for the amazing competance of many very poor Englishmen
in the 1700s, e.g. the geologic map-maker William Smith. (One
bets many of his ancestors had been the well-off rich of bygone
times.)  And since the towns of the late 1700s and early 1800s
into which the people went had little in the way of any existing
"factory culture", the genetic changes are suspect. 

But once this pattern starts, the cultural momentum waxes large.

In the example of people crossing into the U.S. to get a lot of 
money fast, there is no genetic factor. But what exactly is the
strength of the cultural factor, i.e., how much is each worker
on this side of the border now saying to himself or herself
consciously and unconsciously "Okay, this is the U.S., and
we do it differently here. You work as long and as hard as
time permits. Everyone else is. You get to earn a lot of money."

That would be the cultural component.

> This is an artifact caused by the tax structure.

Then this would be the component of motivation that has nothing
to do with culture.  This is direct incentive.

> Labor is taxed heavily in Mexico, whereas illegal Mexicans in
> the US pay no tax at all.

Do you (or anyone) have any figures here?  We are talking about
very poor people. What percentage of small village very low paid
wages does the Mexican government confiscate?  We have to
know this to assess the "personal incentive" vs. "cultural component"
of the motivation.


> Under those conditions anyone would work their asses off abroad,
> then go home for a nice siesta.
> spike

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